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Sports Culture's Past And Future

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>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Welcome to noon edition on WFIU. I'm your host Bob Zaltsberg. I'm going to be joined today on the program by two great guests and we're going to talk about a pivotal moment in sports history actually a pivotal year and the relevance of all of that today. You can join us on Twitter - @noonedition - and you can send us your questions there. You can also send us your questions by e-mail to We are still more than a year into doing the show remotely so you can't call us with your questions. So our guests today are Jon Wertheim. He's the executive editor of Sports Illustrated and a correspondent for CBS 60 Minutes. And Galen Clavio who is the director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University's member of the IU athletics name image and likeness Task Force. He also is a faculty member at the media school. So thanks to both of you for being here with us. And Jon I probably should have mentioned that you are also a proud graduate of Bloomington High School North. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: That should be the first line on my bio and an HT alum a s well. Nice to be here. Hi Bob. Hi Galen. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Hey thanks for being here. So I want to talk about the book. What were you doing in 1984 and how long you've been thinking about this book. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: I think it's something that I probably thinking about it since that summer when I was a rising eighth grader. I just completed my seventh grade at University Middle School a wonderful school. Right on the bypass and I the story really is that this started as a Sports Illustrated story I was a middle schooler. It was the summer of the Olympic trials. Bob Knight was the coach. Everyone came to Bob Knight because that's what you did. And suddenly and I don't know if you recall this. Were you in Bloomington, Bob in 84? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I certainly was. Yes sir. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: I don't know if you have the recollections too? It did not seem especially remarkable just kind of a cool thing but you'd go to the college mall or you'd go to Putt Putt or you'd go to the Petersons to get a smoothie and there would be Michael Jordan Patrick Ewing Charles Barkley all the players were in town and it was sort of a sleepy summer and everybody was was practicing for this Olympic team. The students were gone. And as a seventh grader I remember riding my bike to assembly hall and doors would be unlocked. You'd walk in and there would be there would be the members of the Olympic basketball team practicing. And I wrote about this for Sports Illustrated and sort of didn't think it was enough for a book here. But the more I poked around on the summer of 84 and everything else going on the more I thought aha maybe maybe there's some business we could be doing here. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I like that that thought of you as a budding journalist back then which you know no door is unlocked for you. You just walk right on in and watch and practice. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: It's symbolic but also a sign of the times which you know I mean that there was a lot of nostalgia. There's a lot of Bloomington nostalgia but what I also realized was you know the the underbelly of this is these are not empowered athletes you know whether it's in the Supreme Court decision from a few days ago or whether it's Michael Jordan having to come to the coaches location even though he wasn't being paid and didn't have much leverage. I mean that's the flip side to all of this kind of sports is pure and sports is sort of remember the days when it was so easy you didn't have these deep membranes of security and publicity. The flipside to that is I realize to what extent these athletes didn't have any power. And that's kind of the flipside of the fact I can walk right in and watch Michael Jordan was - why was that possible? So it's a bit of a - I enjoy the benefits of that but I realize it's not quite as simple and pure as perhaps it's made out to be right. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Well I want to ask Galen. Galen I almost hate asking you this question but how old were you in 1984? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I was either four or five years old depending on the time of year we're talking about Bob. So yeah a little a little younger than both of you. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. Say you say you weren't a Michael Jordan fan yet right? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I'd seen a little bit on television but no it hadn't really grown into that fandom as of at that point. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. All right well we're going to talk about a lot of issues today and I know you're going to be able to to add a whole lot to this conversation. I wanted to go back quickly though to Jon and say John you know I was reading your book I was certainly anticipating seeing Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky not so much Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper. So could you talk about how they sort of fit into 1984? You know we seem to have lost Jon on the call. So we'll get him back and Galen what you and I will talk about some things that have happened now. There is a Supreme Court case in Jon's book that that he and I can talk about and we can all talk about in a bit but you know we had just the recent Supreme Court case about what's happening with with education related benefits for students. Can you go over that a little bit? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Sure. Now the most recent case in a nutshell essentially says that the NCAA can't restrict schools from giving what they call education related expenses to athletes. And it's an interesting step because I think to some degree it's just the beginning of a lot of change that could potentially come out of it because as part of the decision there was a concurring opinion that was issued by Justice Kavanaugh which essentially opened the door and gave a roadmap for anybody that was thinking of suing the NCAA L.A. over a variety of factors involving athlete benefits including name image and likeness which you mentioned earlier and maybe just straight up commercial rights. So it's interesting to me because it you know one of the things about Jon's book in that time period. And I don't know if this is specifically mentioned in the book but right around that time period you had really the last major lawsuit that got brought before the Supreme Court involving the NCAA boy that didn't go their way which was the case against the Board of Regents of Oklahoma which essentially opened up the televising of a lot more college sports than was being televised at the time and and to some degree that led to a lot of the financial realities that we have right now in college sports with hundreds of millions of dollars in television contracts being generated every year. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. Now that is in Jon's book and looks like we have him back. So John if you're - I'm glad I didn't offend you or something. I'm glad you're back. If we can talk about that that court case because I think that is almost foreshadowing what we just saw even though it's so many years apart and I think you might be muted. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I'm not sure what. I'm not sure what has happened here. Can you hear me now? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yes sir. Yes sir. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I don't know what I'm I'm in New York City so I blame the city infrastructure. No I think that you know 37 years ago summer of 84 you had this Supreme Court case that - Galen is right. This was a real sort of strike across the bow to the NCAA and it acknowledged this was antitrust and there was sort of this this price fixing and this was cartel like behaviour in schools suddenly had the ability to negotiate their own TV deals. The problem was that buried in what ended up being essentially a concurring opinion was this acknowledgement that athletes in college ought to be amateurs. And so this was an adverse decision for the NCAA but the NCAA did hang on this one sort of sloppily worded I mean I'm sure the that the justice did not intend this to have the weight that it did but the NCAA really seized on this one line of dictum from the concurring decision that acknowledged that there's a special place for for amateur athletics this is something that Justice Kavanaugh. This was something that that course which really seemed to go after when they drafted their decision a few days ago as Galen says the doors really opened for him for a broader challenge to this antitrust exemption to paying athletes to taking this beyond taking this beyond these academic benefits. But it is funny that in 1984 thirty seven years ago it did not have the fanfare that Monday's decision did. And this was not front page news but this Oklahoma Regents case was a blow against the NCAA and did acknowledge this sort of card cartel like behaviour but it didn't really get built upon you know school schools negotiated their own TV deals outside of the NCAA and we had college conferences and this is what enabled you know that everything from the Big Ten Network to even the University of Texas to have its own network but it never really was built upon you know no one built on it to you know put forth this issue that we had a few days ago when we really need to take a long hard look at this amateur concept. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So for you first and then Galen something that struck me when I was reading your chapter on that in the book is the quaintness of the NCAA is argument that this was going to hurt college athletics because they would they would then be able to flood the airwaves and there would be too many sports out there for people to watch and people were just not going to be able to watch them all and it was ultimately gonna gonna hurt college athletics. That's not really what happened. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: No it's funny because what was the NCAA is justification this time that it's going to hurt business. The fans are going to want to watch sports because amateurism is so central to the you know to the experience of being a college sports fan. It's very much the same argument they put forth. Thirty seven years ago you're right. That was not the case. I don't think people lost interest in college football because suddenly there was more supply. You know I think it's we laugh when we even talk about that. Given how much we are appetite for college football is officially insatiable. And it's funny that the NCAA essentially made the same point this time around which is oh it's going to change the fundamental experience for the fan. Fans want amateur athletics I think. I mean I love Justice Kavanaugh's logic is look I may love eating at a restaurant where the cooks aren't paid. But that doesn't give the restaurant the right to circumvent the free market and circumvent price fixing to accommodate me the consumer. And why should it be any different here? I don't think if suddenly athletes know instead of billions of dollars sloshing around the system and then coaches making millions of dollars that the athletes themselves if the labor got a slice of that, somehow I don't think people would stop going to. You know what I mean Michigan football games or Duke basketball games. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Galen, as John said, you know the argument there was that there was gonna be fundamental change. I think there is going to be fundamental change but I don't think it's what the NCAA argued. What do you see come out of this ruling? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I think it's going to be interesting because you know so much of the this is about controlling the mechanism by which college athletics is delivered to people. And I think Jon makes a lot of really good points. The other case in nineteen eighty four was fascinating because that was almost the NCAA against its member schools and the NCAA. But I wanted to retain control of what games got on television where the contracts came in and the conferences in the individual schools said no we want that control. This is a bit of a different situation where it's essentially most of the schools along with the NCAA boy trying to hold back you know what's been at this point a decade long or more than that even effort to try to level the playing field for athletes. And that is know I think to me the big thing about all of this that has changed the equation and what's going to likely lead to some of the major changes that you're talking about is how much more money there is now than there was even years ago I think I remember growing up in the in the 80s and 90s and you'd hear people occasionally raise the idea of athletes should be paid at the college level and no one that didn't get a huge amount of traction because you know in the 80s and early 90s you still had a lot of head coaches that were making roughly the same amount of money as a college professor. I can tell you as a college professor that's not happening anymore. The the huge amount of money and largely from television Big Ten Network you know SCC network ESPN money all of that coming in really since about 2000 has doubled in some cases tripled the top athletic department budgets and I think for a lot of people not just keen observers of the industry but it's the everyday fan. They now look at this and say well wait a minute. If a coach is making four or five million dollars a year you can't really turn around and tell us that you're all losing money in this proposition. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Right. So I want to give our numbers again or our contact information again, at noon edition if you want to send us questions by over Twitter you can also send us questions by email news at Indiana Public Media dot org. We're talking about the world of sports. We don't talk about sports much on this show but we are today. And we've got two fantastic guests with us and Jon Wertheim the executive editor of Sports Illustrated and a correspondent for CBS 60 Minutes and Galen Clavio director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University and a member of the IU athletics' name image and likeness task force. You talk about money another topic - and it's really very closely related to this is the media and how much money the media has put into athletics and Jon in the book again. You talk about 1984. ESPN was really on the rise. Just it was the beginning. You can remind me of the details but I think you said at that time Chris Berman made something like sixteen thousand five hundred dollars a year in the media and now and then he was making what a half million or something like that. So it's a different ballgame. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Yeah. The - I mean I didn't necessarily realize it's going in but it became pretty clear to me that we talk about the summer of 84 in this coming forces building force of table was absolutely transformative and stay with CNN. It was Nickelodeon. It was MTV. But in sports it was ESPN which was sold in 1984 to ABC. It had been owned by Getty. Now you and ABC as well. You know I'm a media company was owning a media company but the other big thing was ESPN realized hey wait a second we're paying to get on all of these cable systems. People really like us people are going to order cable if ESPN isn't part of the choices they should be paying us. And in 1984 ESPN started to get a few pennies from every household in the coming years. That grew to the seven dollars plus we get today the households grew from that to 25 million or so in 1984 to is as high as 100 million. So ESPN suddenly went from losing money which it was prior to 1984 to absolutely minting money. And what impact of that was ESPN suddenly had billions of dollars coming through the door before it sold a single 30 second ad. They took that money. And they started to use it for rights fees and they bought NFL football games and college basketball and big time football and that money has trickled down to coaches and to athletes. Me and Michael Jordan's rookie salary in 1984 was five hundred and fifty thousand dollars the median NBA salary now is eight figures. A lot of that has been propped up by it by media by cable and we're in a world now where cable is suddenly gotten some competition. But when we go back and tell the story of sort of the last 35 years in sports cable media rights loom really large because that money has essentially propped up the whole enterprise. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: How did the rest of these sports networks compare to ESPN now? Because you know ESPN is not alone. You know you've got sports - Fox Sports every every place in the world seems like Fox Sports Indiana Fox Sports Ohio Fox Sports New England. You know how did the rest of these compare to ESPN? 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Yeah. Galen, if you - I mean they're not getting what ESPN is charging. But you know we're all you look at your cable bill and you know it at some level it's kind of silly. The idea of charging people for things that they don't necessarily want or even know they get is maybe not a great long term strategy to say well you know the conservatives pay for Fox and I mean the liberals favor Fox and conservatives pay for MSNBC and people that don't like sports are still paying part of their cable bill to these networks. So if the Big Ten Network is just you make up a number but if they're they're getting 50 cents a month from you know 60 million homes. It's not ESPN revenues but that's that's that's a lot of money and it's going to be interesting if we move to this this olive cart model where you sort of only pay for what you want or if people continue cutting the cord. It'll be interesting to see the impact of that certainly on sports. But right now it's a pretty good deal. A lot of people that pay a lot for cable don't know that they're the other their cable bills. Give it up this way. But month after month after month all of these networks all these forced networks are getting a nice bit of subscriber fee and again that doesn't even include what they're then charging when they start selling their the 30 second commercials. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, and the point of course is that ESPN was sold to ABC back in 1994 and that's well before any of these other networks had an idea that they were going to get into the sports programming cable programming business. Yeah. Galen your comments on that. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Yeah Jon made a lot of great points there. It's interesting on a couple of levels to me. First of all I think those of us who grew up in Indiana following Indiana basketball didn't realize how little basketball was on television outside of the state during that period. I mean I remember growing up and watching TV and every game was on TV and that was not the case with most programs across the country. And what happened with ESPN during this time and with the expansion of cable was there was so much more inventory you went from having three national networks plus PBS and that was all the programming that you had in a given night to one hundred plus channels and even more than that a decade two decades later. So you know not only did it make a big difference from a revenue perspective it also helped popularize a lot of these sports. Mean you can draw a direct line between college basketball's growth and popularity and ESPN you know bringing that in as one of its primary properties during the 80s. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I mean it really helped to put it in a lot of homes that weren't there before. Well you know what's going on now is interesting because yes you've got so many more channels and they're not making as much money as ESPN but even ESPN has had to shift tactics a little bit it's gone from counting on this you know 90 or hundred million subscribers paying seven dollars a month to you know bringing up their streaming service ESPN plus charging people five or six dollars a month and then just getting as many rights as they can and dropping it on there. So in some ways they're making less money but it's slightly better for the consumer because there's even more sports on now you can watch everything from you know the Spanish league soccer to tennis to UFC to EA Sports all on one package and you're only paying four or five dollars a month and so that's probably going to be what we see continue to happen as we move forward in the technological age even though you might have cut your cord and now you're no longer paying a hundred and sixty dollars and your cable bill you're probably paying just that much on all the subscription services you have to get to replace what you were getting with that bundle originally. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: And a question from one of our audience members about that. But before I go there I did want to ask you about it seems to me that this has changed the way media schools smart media schools are operating too because you know your center at IU I mean there's so many more opportunities for a young person who wants to go into journalism it seems to me to get into sports journalism today then to get into news journalism in any way. Am I reading that right? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Well in some ways yes. And in some ways no. I think that the whole equation has changed in terms of a we have to teach students from the get go to be able to work in multiple media environments. I mean I graduated from IU in 2001 and you at that point we're still having to make a decision in college whether you wanted to be a newspaper writer or whether you wanted to be a broadcaster. And there really wasn't much intermingling between those two groups. And then if you want to do something like sports rarely was there a class that you could take that was specific to that it was all very general and the idea was you'd go get your experience when you worked in the industry. Now we try to prepare our students for all of those potentialities and give them hands on experience in writing and video and social media and podcasting before they ever walk out the doors with their degree a because that's what the industry once and b because everything is being received essentially in the same format. Everybody's getting you know whether it's written news or or video or audio that's coming through their Twitter feed. They're all accessing it in essentially the same format. So you better be able to operate in all those formats. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. Jon - and I hope you don't mind me asking that. How did you wind up going from Sports Illustrated in the print side and writing books into the world of television. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Oh man. It's kind of a fluke but I would I would come to realize is the sort of so many media stories are flukes. 60 Minutes had to have a 60 Minutes Sports show that was sort of like like a you know like HBO Real Sports Night. I did a did some essays for them and then I did a piece for them and then they sort of said well you know if you want to come try something have come to the Sunday show and try a piece. You're welcome to and did a few pieces and it's it's been great. It's been a nice match. It's been nice for me to work in a new medium. It's been nice to do non sports and at the same time it's a - I think Galen raised a great 0 I mean I don't know what am I doing. I'm telling stories. I'm meeting people. I'm sort of trying to tell people something they may not have known or distilling the best quotes in some ways it's very much the same thing I've always - done. And I think that's kind of the I mean it's strange times and media like I can't imagine what my message would be if I were teaching students as Galen is but the flipside is there have never been more outlets. People's hunger for news and information has never been greater and it's kind of fun to toggle between these two. I mean you're right you used to have to pick a lane and it was - I mean I remember when I started Sports Illustrated you would have to ask permission to do an NPR interview because it seemed like such a diversion to your work in print. What do you do to be on the radio for that's completely changed and there's a limit since it's not a stable environment and there's a lot of uncertainty. But the flip side is A there's an audience somewhere and B it is kind of fun to you know toggle back and forth. But in interesting times in media. But I think you sort of take some solace from the fact people still want good stories and people at least are interested if people that I don't really care you know did that I football. I don't care if Indiana football is good or not I have no opinions about who Indiana's Knicks basketball coach should be I think we've really got problems. If it's just a question of where we're having that discussion where we're getting our news I think we can - this is solvable. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: You're listening to noon edition on WFIU we're talking about a lot of things in the world of sports including We're talking with Jon Wertheim the author of the book glory days the summer of 1984 and the 90 days that changed sports and culture forever. And also Galen Clavio the director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University if you want to ask us a question or ask Jon or Galen a question. It's at noon edition you can send this question on Twitter or news at Indiana Public Media dot org. Jon Werthiem lost you briefly before I ask a question that went into the ether about the book and it was you know it was the point that I was not at all surprised about seeing Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky in the book. But I was a little surprised to see Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper in the book and I wanted to ask you to sort of explain you know as briefly as you can because it's kind of long story and both faces how those two came to be a part of this sports and culture revolution of 1994. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Oh man. Both did the Cyndi Lauper one is probably easier which is why we have this force of cable that we've been talking about and she's a musician who isn't just singing but she's now doing these little three minute vignettes called videos on this new network MTV and she's she does the girls just want to have fun video she's trying to economize if she uses her mother but her parents are divorced she doesn't want to use her father in the videos that she finds this guy she knows Lou Albano who has a past in wrestling and they they get on famously they do the video the songs a hit and they have the bright idea that they're going to enter this world where Lou resides a professional wrestling and they headline a wrestling card in 1984 that MTV broadcasts seems like a strange mix but MTV sort of wants to branch out beyond music pro wrestling wants to branch out beyond its niche fan base was crossover a smashing success it leaves to wrestle mania which is now the know I think it's the second biggest annual sports franchise after the Super Bowl. So if it weren't for Cyndi Lauper the pop star in her slapdash video with Lou Albano we may never have had Wrestlemania than the quickly the Michael Jackson story and he's the king of pop in 84. He's doing - Thriller has come out biggest star in the world his parents essentially say OK time to spread the wealth to your family. They launched the Victory Tour which Michael Jackson does not necessarily want to do with his brothers. It's managed by Don King who is somehow left boxing to insinuate himself into this concert tour it's bankrolled by the Sullivan family who own the Patriots. The tour is a fiasco. The Jackson Brothers are barely on speaking terms. Michael doesn't want to be there. There are all sorts of cost overruns their dancers they have all these sets that have to be torn down and reassembled at every tour stop the tour loses money the Sullivans eventually sell the stadium and the team the number of dominos fall but they end up with Bob Kraft who buys the stadium the land the team the Patriots and Bob Kraft in his office has a poster of this victory tour because. But for Michael Jackson and him feuding with his siblings and going out with this disastrous tour in 1984. Who knows if we have the Patriots dynasty? So to sort of random anecdotes that I think there's the larger point is you know that history moves in strange ways sometimes it's something we think is unremarkable thickened with time a little bit as easy as sort of butterfly effect has had these huge impacts down the road. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: There are a lot of great stories in the book. Those were a couple that I have to say I didn't anticipate. Let me let me ask this question that came in from our listeners. it says what about sports streaming on Hulu and YouTube. Will that be beneficial to athletes. Galen you want to tackle that? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: That's - well it kind of depends on what form it takes. I look I think media exposure in general likely helps athletes and helps the entire financial structure that we're dealing with. If you're looking at colleges and universities athletic departments and saying well we're already spending all of this money we're bringing in on other things then you have to look for other revenue streams. And one of the things that's been interesting is we've done a lot of work on this name image and likeness situation is how well athletes are able to monetize their social media. I mean it's really remarkable to see and we've seen athletes do very well on YouTube putting videos up over the course the last 15 years only for the NCAA to come in and say you can't have that channel. It violates your amateurism agreement and you have to deal monetize the channel or take it down. So certainly I think taking those restrictions off would be very helpful. A lot of the other areas are things that we haven't thought of yet. Like you know 15 years ago I don't know that anybody's thinking to themselves, you know it would be great would be streaming college football on a smartphone app. Nobody would have known what most of those words meant to put in that order 15 years ago. So I'm sure there's solutions we haven't thought of yet. But the technology is all there. It's going to be you know once we get some of the barriers taken out what can be done to properly make money off of those things. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We did a program a whole program on the name image and likeness but if you could. Again you have a little bit of a reminder about what your task force is all about. You're in it. You can correct me if I'm wrong but you're trying to figure out how I view athletes can do as well for themselves without getting crosswise of any rules right? Is that sort of what you're doing? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: To some degree yes. Although the big questions always been what are the rules going to be. And so that really is the big question mark. Now I mean I think I think to some degree we know the best routes by which athletes can leverage social media and do things commercially. It's always been a question of what does the NCAA boy's rulebook allow. But what we're seeing now in light of the Supreme Court decision and NCAA kind of scrambling around right now to release some language on image and likeness before this July 1st deadline where a lot of individual states are planning on releasing their own rules. You may have a situation where individual schools like Indiana University might be able to make their own rules on this. And that's a really interesting outcome that I don't know that anybody was expecting when we started this project. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Do either of you see this as a possibility where you know athletes who are used to just speaking to the media or sort - it's suggested by universities they speak to the media it might become a situation where it's the demand some sort of financial remuneration some kind of pay for even doing interviews with media outlets. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Ooh man. I would hope it would not come to that. I mean I do think I mean one trend I've noticed is that know fans love social media. Media love social media. But I think it's not an either or. And I think fans recognize that they're getting you know something that that's obviously - it's subjective. It doesn't include the whole picture. I mean I think that when you follow an athlete on social media it's it's great when you follow a team. But I think there does seem to be a demand for objective unsparing coverage. I think what's interesting is the commerce so and I think athletes are I think we're getting close to a point where just as a you know used to be sort of this everybody benefited right the newspapers would sell copies because they covered Indiana and Indiana would have coverage that helped with fan interest and with engagement. I do think the economics are getting to a point where athletes and teams are saying wait a second why why are we. Why are we sending these media credentials why are we making these players speak. I do think the flip side of that is that fans do seem to want objective coverage. And I think that you know if you can monetize your social media by having your remarks on a game that's probably preferable to the athletes and going into a press conference where A you're not getting paid and B you don't have control of the content or the opinions. But I also I'm not sure fans are going to settle for simply that the biased coverage that teams and athletes would provide. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I totally agree with Jon on this. I think everybody loves biased coverage or you know the very positive stuff you'll see from teams and athletes on social media when the teams are winning and the athletes are doing well. And then when when that doesn't happen and there's questions that have to be raised you don't see athletes and teams attacking themselves on social media or asking questions about why things are going well. So there's always that temptation like you see it a lot with European soccer coverage where there is not the same history and legacy of access to athletes and coaches and managers there. But even in those circumstances you've still got a pretty thriving you know media establishment that covers these teams objectively it's not like fans are just following along with what their teams or favorite athletes are putting out and that's it. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Going to our next question I just have to say we got a hearty hello from one of our listeners from John Harrell saying privilege to call Jon and Galen both friends. So I want to mention that 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Nice to hear. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So you know another another thing that happened recently another news story in sports that happened recently was involve Naomi Osaka. I know John you were at the French Open. You're heading to Wimbledon soon. One of the things I wanted to put this in a context of your book because I thought in the chapter one of the chapters about the mentioned Martina Navratilova I mean she got into a there was a different kind of situation as Osaka but she got into a scuffle with the British press back in nineteen eighty four and declined to speak to them because she felt like she wasn't being treated fairly. It's not the same thing as the mental health issues perhaps that came up now. But if you could talk about this relationship between the press and media and athletes and and what the Osaka case may have meant for that. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: I mean I think what happened with Osaka. This is you know I mean tennis is kind of my thought my guilty pleasure. I mean to tennis is where I spend a lot of time and I've gotten to know her a bit and I think this is really this was really about an athlete with some mental health challenges who wasn't feeling comfortable confronting the media that I think has been very you know it's usually been a very congenial relationship with her. I think this is really about her mental health. But I think that this was not a crusade. This was not defiance. This was not an athlete who wanted to take on the institution. But I do think this insight I think we sort of all use this to really examine this athlete media relationship and who's getting what out of it and whether the processes are what they ought to be. And I think the Osaka didn't quite realize what a Pandora's box she was opening. I think this was really just about her mental health at the moment. But this has become sort of a pretext to discuss this relationship. And it's you know I mean the one thing about tennis is that usually the access means either that there's an open locker room and the players are free to turn their back and say no comment or there's in the case of sort of the NBA there's a press conference there's a podium. Athletes go up several at a time. The moderator calls usually on familiar faces. I mean in tennis it's a bit of a free for all and the players sort of sits there and they're not free to get up and turn their back. And it's a strange situation where sometimes they can be combative sometimes they can be silly. Naomi Osaka I went back and looked at her you know her interviews in her press conferences and a lot of times it's about anime or fashion or what kind of music she listens to. It's not a print know it's this is not you know the Donald Trump in the press corps. I mean this is not a particularly combative situation but it is I think it is a little strange for athletes of this generation. Wait a second. I have social media. I have my phone. I can tell you what I'm up to. Why do I need to have this back and forth where I don't know the questions in advance and sometimes they can be provocative questions and I don't like the uncertainty. Again I mean I think this is this is the generation that didn't necessarily come up with the press conference is just something that's a given. And I think that there's sort of an economics to all of this and I think that will determine a lot of this. I mean I think one thing that didn't get talked about with Naomi Osaka and we go back to the Patriots whenever Bill Belichick talks. We always see Dunkin Donuts right. I mean whenever there's a tennis player interview they're bottles of water next to them and they're in the French Open the BNP Paribas sponsored the backdrop. This is content for the tournament. This is content for the sport. This is sort of the Digital Extra after the movie. So even the press conferences now have been monetized. I think it's going to be interesting how this all plays out and I think what's interesting about Naomi Osaka is she intended none of this. She she just wasn't feeling like she was in a place mentally where she wanted to have this exchange. But I don't think she. Yeah. I know this for a fact she she did not intend this to be the sort of talking point in the referendum on athlete media relations that it became. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah I know Galen you've had some things to say about this too. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Yeah I mean I think so much of that relationship is you know it's fraught now. And to some degree this is the beginnings of this athlete empowerment era that John talks about in the book to start during this time period we're almost seeing it reach a bigger and broader levels every year and that's been largely I think pushed forward by social media. The the reaction on Twitter to this story you would have thought that Naomi Osaka was being forced against her will to do something that she's never wanted to do in her old career. And you know there's certain overreactions that we see regularly on social media do a lot of these things. I do think as John points out it brings up a lot of interesting questions about that relationship. But you know the important thing to remember is that sports relies on publicity in order to grow itself maintain itself make the money that the athletes then get paid with and you know you can't just have a venue where you're just showing the games and that's it like there's got to be a natural journalistic element baked into that. And if it was just as simple as putting games on and not having athletes have to answer any questions then we would have already seen the NFL in the NBA with their own networks where they were the ones bringing you all of the games. There's a reason why they're still partnering with media entities and there is a reason why not just the sports but also the athlete unions have said yes, we want to maintain this relationship with media because ultimately there might be individual moments of of unpleasantness. But on the whole it benefits everybody involved. And so you'll see these things pop up every now and again and that tends to lead to this referendum on whether we should be doing any of this at all and you know what harm is it doing. But I think on the balance it's been proven to be a good thing not just for journalists and not just for leagues but also for the athletes that are participating as well. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So you spend some time in the book, Jon, on Martina Navratilova. I just mentioned that with her her little squabble with the British press but you know more important than that. I mean there were elements of of sexism involved there were elements of her about her sexual orientation. We've come a long way since then. But in thirty seven years we still have you know the NCAA basketball tournament where the men got like filet mignon and the women got a you know. I don't know what - I don't know even have a good example of what they got but they got good social media coverage of what they were what they didn't get. You have an NFL player coming out for the first time this week. I mean how have we made as much progress in the last 37 years as we should have. I know that's a very broad open ended question. But just trying to get some thoughts on this. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: No it's a great question. And I think on some issues yes, some issues no. You know I mean I don't think people - for those of us of a certain age or Metro we ever thought that we would see an active NFL player say I'm gay and then five or six years ago I think we would say wait a second why haven't we seen an active NFL player say I'm gay. I mean I think about Martina comes into to my mind for four tons of credit. I mean this is 37 years ago and she's unapologetic openly gay and she's you know I've been. She wasn't treated particularly well at the time. I mean their stories. She used a supercomputer to look at the statistical tendencies of her opponents. And that was sort of derided almost as cheating. Now what is that. But she was an early early adopter of analytics and she was filled with bustles and veins. And that was something that was sort of used against her. Now of course what was she doing. She was training and doing the same conditioning that every athlete male and female ought to be doing. She was really ahead of her time and I think history will remember her fondly. He certainly didn't get her due in 1984. I'm not sure she has today but no I'm in sports I think in some ways are cutting edge and in some ways they're very retrograde. And you're right we're talking we're talking during a week when the Supreme Court unanimously has sort of taken a shot at the NCAA as a cartel we were talking during a week in which an active NFL player has come out and said I'm gay and it was a story for a day and we all went out and that. This is not a news item but it wasn't front page. I think sports, it depends. Sport by sport it depends regionally and context in some ways sports are cutting edge and in some ways sports I think are stubbornly retrograde. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I think Galen I'd like to for you to talk a little bit about your students because I believe that you know young people who are going into covering sports these days they don't see the kind of differences that a lot of people in my generation would have seen. You know back then is that fair to say. 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Yeah I think that's very fair to say the young people that are in our program now. I feel by and large are coming out of a background and experience you know as middle schoolers and high schoolers where they're exposed to a lot of different types of people. Their media is filled with an entire rainbow of different races and beliefs and orientations. And I don't notice it being something that comes up at all in class. I mean I certainly talk about you know how coverage of these things has occurred in the past. But to some degree I almost feel like I'm communicating in a different language to them at times not that they're not interested but it's shocking for many of them that that would even be that big of a deal let alone as big of a deal as it was in the 80s or 90s. And it's you know as I as I like to talk to them about it's amazing how quickly these things can change. I think John brought up a great point about you know an openly gay athlete like the ex the acceptance of that just in general society was so different in the early 90s which wasn't that long ago versus what it is now. And it feels to some degree like the change happened almost overnight. Like it's hard to imagine being back in the mindset that was so prevalent at the time. And so it's it's heartening in a lot of ways I think because students are coming in with a much more diverse mindset about the people that they're going to be interacting with and they're open to learning more about that and interacting with those people while they're in school. And so I think it points to a really bright future. But it is interesting thinking about how much has changed here over the past thirty five years. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So we're in an Olympic year. There's a great deal of interesting stuff and in John's book about the 1984 Olympics one thing I just want to mention just in passing was performance enhancing drugs. There's still a big deal you know so we we still have. That's still an issue even it was an issue in 1980 for Mary Lou Retton was one of the stars of those Olympic Games or lots more women's stories that bring all this up in this context. We've got about six minutes to go on the program but one of our listeners wants to hear a little bit of a discussion about the documentary athlete a in the Indianapolis Star's coverage of gymnastics and the abuse that have been going on for years with Dr. Larry Nasser. What kind of changes has that made in the sport should it making the sport. Is it going to be zagging that be a part of this year's Olympic Games with at least some Biles who was featured on 60 Minutes recently in the last couple of weeks being one of the athletes that had faced some sexual abuse. John. 

>>JON WERTHEIM: Well yeah I mean. Well I mean I have tremendous respect for the Indianapolis Star for that but that report is so horrifying as it was. I think it's it's interesting I mean I do suspect it. You know despite broadcast coverage to sanitize these events especially if the gymnastics team wins as many gold medals as we anticipate pretty hard to tell that story and not mention the name Larry Nassar and not reference this scandal. I wrote a bit last year about the Ohio State scandal, which was not dissimilar. It was a male doctor and male athletes. And I wonder if, maybe this is unduly optimistic and I think, you know, sports is about power relationships and there's all sorts of manipulation. But I wonder if between social media, the fact that we all have these movie studios in our pockets with our phones and we have a vocabulary to talk about assault and abuse that maybe we didn't 10 years ago that we certainly didn't, you know, in the '80s and '90s when this Ohio State scandal was going on. I wonder if - I don't want to say this type of scenario would be impossible today but I think there is a lot more awareness. There are a lot more people who are sort of able to talk about it because of things like the Indianapolis Star's reporting and the documentary that you referenced. Athletes are more aware of this. Just anecdotally, when I began covering tennis 20 years ago, I heard a number of disturbing stories about coach-player relationships. You hear fewer of those now. I'm not naive enough to think that athlete abuse is a thing of the past but I do think in part because of all the exposure and the attention and the vocabulary and the athletes like the gymnast coming forward, I think there's a lot more awareness which hopefully means a lot fewer instances. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: That was kind of a long clumsy question, Galen, but do you have any response to it? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Yeah. No, I echo John's hope, that we're entering an era where people are more empowered to speak up when things like this happen. But I think it's going to take a lot of work. And I think that whether it's the IndyStar investigation or what happened at Ohio State or these revelations of what occurred at the University of Michigan with Dr. Robert Anderson and the alleged abuse that occurred there, it really strikes at the heart of something that was so prevalent when I was growing up in the '80s. And you know, I'm hoping that it's changed somewhat. I have two daughters under the age of 6 who may be interested in going into sports but this idea that the, you know, the coaches or people in positions of authority or doctors in this team environment should just be left to do what they think is best with children or college-age athletes, I think that that's something that hopefully all of these revelations of scandal that occurred in the last 30 years will cause us to re-evaluate that. Because I just think that there was such a historical lack of oversight in all of these areas and most of the oversight lay in the hands of one or two people. And we've seen what that can bring to a situation. I mean, it can lead to the unchecked power and the kind of taking advantage of people that has led to all of these scandals. So you know, that - it's generally a small number of people but all it takes is one and it creates huge issues that can traumatize people for the rest of their lives. And so I hope that John's right, that we've got, you know, far more communication available and people are more aware of it and say, something's wrong here. But I think there's other structural changes that have to happen as well. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We have less than two minutes to go but we did get one more question from Mike who says is there anything unique to Hoosier sports culture anymore? Feels to me like commercialization of sports, many groups of fans are becoming more and more uniform. It's really unique, the Hoosier culture - Hoosier sports culture anymore. Galen, want to try that first? 

>>GALEN CLAVIO: Well, you know, I think most of the uniqueness comes in, they're just the individual relationships that people have with the teams. I mean, it's hard to say - you're never going have a situation like you had even 30 years ago where because of the lack of television and because so much was done in person and that was your only real exposure to the team that, you know, that's where the culture grew from. But I think yes, there's a distinct experience going to an IU sporting event versus going to a sporting event in Michigan or go to a sporting event at USC. It's largely in the attendance aspects and being there but I don't think that it's as uniform as sometimes it seems when all you're doing is watching it through television. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, John, last 30 seconds for that or anything you want to share with your hometown crowd? 

>>JON WERTHEIM: No, I think that's a great point. I think, you know, sports at some levels is motto culture but the flip side is we can watch sports anywhere. I can live in Mongolia and watch every single IU game. In some ways, it's never been a better time to be a fan of a niche team because it's so accessible now in a way that it didn't used to be. So we may be miss - you know, we may be missing a certain uniqueness but the flipside is it's never been easier to be a regional fan. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We are out of time. Thank you so much to Jon Wertheim for joining us today as well as Galen Clavio. For producer, Bente Bouthier, engineer, John Bailey. I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening to Noon Edition. 


>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Noon Edition is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at Production support comes from Smithfield, fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in Southern Indiana. More information at And from Bloomington Health Foundation, partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation, improving health and well-being takes a community. More at


(Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

The Olympic Trials for basketball were held in Bloomington 37 years ago. Michal Jordan, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley walked through the Indiana Memorial Union and visited The Chocolate Moose.

Bloomington native and Sports Illustrated executive editor Jon Wertheim was 13 at the time. He remembers that summer as a pivotal time for sports.

Wertheim shares his thoughts in his recently published book, Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever.

In it, he touches on events such as the L.A. Olympics, the rise of pro-wrestling as a business, and the release of The Karate Kid. Wertheim says that it’s a coincidence that so many pivotal sports events mentioned in the book unfolded all in the same summer. But he tells Jimmy Traina on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast that the rise of cable television and developing commerce surrounding sports tied them all together.

Sports culture and commerce continue to change today. The Tokyo Olympic Games this summer may see spectators turned away amid concerns of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of former college players against the NCAA, saying the organization can’t place limits on education-related benefits for student athletes.

The ruling is expected to redefine amateurism, along with new Name, Image, and Likeness rules coming into effect.

This week, we’ll talk with Jon Wertheim about his book, and get IU Media School Professor Galen Clavio’s thoughts about the developing world of sports and media.

You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at 812-855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at

Note: This week of our guests and hosts will participate remotely to avoid risk of spreading infection. 


Jon Wertheim, executive editor Sports Illustrated

Galen Clavio, director of the National Sports Journalism Center, IU Athletics NIL Taskforce member

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